Seasonal Color – August – California Fuchsia

No discussion of year-round color in the native garden is ever complete without talking about California Fuchsia, Epilobium canum and other Epilobiums.  Just when the some of the garden is gearing down for summer dormancy, hot weather and no water, the bright red/orange blooms of California Fuchsia peek out and take center stage.

Epilobium ‘Everett’s Choice’ has blue-green glaucus foliage and mixes well with Festuca rubra ‘Patrick’s Point’ and the larger Leymus ‘Canyon Prince’. The cat is attracted by the hummingbirds, unfortunately!

In my garden, my favorite cultivar ‘Everett’s Choice’ is the earliest bloomer, usually starting on the 4th of July and sometimes continuing on until October!  Most others start blooming in August or September in Southern California, and they are hugely important plants for hummingbird nectar.  In fact, if you have a good stand of California Fuchsia you can forget about hummingbird feeders in the summer because they will be well supplied.

My friend Gene Ratcliffe wrote a good article about Epilobiums for the Tree of Life Nursery website.  I also found this plant of the month feature at Golden West College Native Garden.  These articles have good information about various cultivars and garden treatment of Epilobiums, and some nice photos, too.  If you have other articles or pictures you can share, please comment below – I’d particularly like to hear from those of you in Northern California about your experiences with Epilobium.  Check out your local native nurseries and fall plant sales and ask your local CNPS chapter about which California Fuchsias are available and do well in your area.

A stunning border of an unknown cultivar at the Dana Point Headlands Interpretive Center, taken August 13, 2010.
Close-up flower of California Fuchsia

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  1. I like this blog,how beautiful this flower plant looks at this time…but i really want to know how you grow this in California, is by seeds or cuttings…good!

  2. Hi Pablo: You can propagate California Fuchsia either by seed or cuttings. The named cultivars are of course grown by cuttings so that they are identical genetically. I have had several come up in my yard from seed, and they are always a nice surprise. There are also some California Fuchsia’s that spread via runners underground.

  3. cal fuchsia propagates even better by division. you can easily make 5 to 10 plants from a single plant and have them each mature in a matter of weeks if you divide them in june – soon after they come back to life after dormancy.

  4. Love that Dana Point photo! Epilobium canum grows by underground rhizomes — they spread everywhere in my San Jose garden, if I let them. I find the best time to divide/transplant is in December-January, when the stems are dormant. They start leafing out early spring and form a nice gray groundcover until July/August when they explode with color.

    1. Yes, I’ve had some of the Epilobium canum’s spread by rhizomes, especially the lower growing ones, it seems. Some of the taller ones, like the cultivar ‘Catalina’ don’t seem to have any rhizomatous spread at all, but I do get a lot of seedlings in my garden from that one.

  5. Dear cnps member.
    I have a dead lawn in the front yard in San Jose, California. I want to grow california fuchsia everette’s choise this June 2012. What are the ground preparation do I need to do before planting?. how often I need to water in the summer until the shrub becomes established. I dont’ want to overwater them.

    I thank you in advance of all your adivce and inputs.
    Cordially Yours

  6. California fuchsia is outstanding for attracting hummingbirds and also has some value for Lepidoptera.

    Butterflies that visit its flowers include : Pipevine Swallowtail (most avid butterfly user known to Arthur Shapiro, butterfly expert), Anise Swallowtail, California Dogface, Cloudless Sulphur Orange-barred Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, Mexican Yellow.

    California fuchsia is caterpillar forage for some moths, especially the White-lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata). It is likely a hostplant for Clark’s Day Sphinx (Proserpinus clarkiae). Lepidopterist Paul Johnson, of Pinnacles National Monument, found an injured fifth instar larva on it. He attempted to rear it out to confirm, but it did not survive its injuries.

    California fuchsia is known as a hostplant for a couple of smaller moth species:

    Heliodinidae: Aetole extraneella (fq).

    Tortricidae: Orange Tortrix (Argyrotaenia franciscana).

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